Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Still Spinning: Alice in Chains, "Facelift"

I still remember the first time I heard Alice in Chains. It was the video for “Man in the Box” on “Headbanger’s Ball.” I was in the throes of one of those “more notes=better music” phases that most young guitar players go through, and I absolutely hated it. The one-note main guitar riff was far too simplistic and the moaning vocal style of Layne Staley was so foreign to the things I was listening to at the time.

Fast forward about six months. I’ve got tickets to see Van Hagar, and Alice in Chains is the opening band. If it hadn’t been a general admission show, I might have showed up late. I’m glad I didn’t.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: "Hurtsmile," Hurtsmile

It probably won’t come as a great surprise to most that Gary Cherone’s new project Hurtsmile has a lot of elements of his main gig, Extreme. It’s not a complete accident, either. The core of the band is formed by Cherone and his brother, Mark. They’re joined by bassist Joe Pessia, a veteran of Nuno Bettencourt’s Dramagods, and drummer Dana Spellman, who was a student of former Extreme drummer Mike Mangini. Throw in the fact that Mark Cherone and Bettencourt’s brother once played in a band together, and it’s a pretty tangled knot between the two bands.

That said, though, the record is certainly not just an extension of Extreme. There are a lot of other influences that run through the songs, ranging from Alice in Chains-style grunge to prog-rock blasts of instrumental virtuosity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: Nekromantheon, "Divinity of Death"

The name, logo, album cover and Norweigian origin all say extreme metal, but the music on Nekromantheon’s Divinity of Death is pure candy to the ears of classic thrash fans.

Nekromantheon blazes through 11 tracks in about 30 minutes sounding like the bastard child of Show No Mercy-era Slayer and very early Sepultura. The songs are short, fast, punchy and very solidly played. They don’t cover any new ground in the thrash genre, but at the same time they also manage to sound fresh and not derivative.